Mikel Arteta’s first duel with wily Italian pragmatist Massimiliano Allegri ended in defeat as his Arsenal side produced a flat performance at the Emirates on Saturday evening. Own goals from Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding at the end of each half saw the visitors run out 2-0 winners.
The Premier League leaders entered Saturday’s contest off the back of a successful training camp in Dubai during which they beat Lyon and AC Milan in a pair of friendlies dressed up to be a part of the Dubai Super Cup.
Despite the long layoff as a result of the Qatari World Cup, Arteta’s side did an excellent job in ensuring their winning momentum continued during the break. However, the Gunners will now enter their Boxing Day clash with West Ham having tasted just their fourth (competitive and non-competitive) defeat of the season.
Arsenal fall flat in 2-0 friendly defeat to Juventus
Juventus were without the vast majority of their first-team squad for Saturday’s friendly and anyone aware of Allegri’s exploits would’ve been fully aware of how his youthful Bianconeri side were going to set up at the Emirates.
This was the first stage of their preparations ahead of Serie A’s return in the new year. Containment was on the Old Lady’s menu. Thus, Arsenal dominated possession and territory for much of the bout but Mattia Perin was rarely tested between the sticks.
The Gunners ended the game with just two shots on target despite having 19 efforts on goal. Very little was clear-cut, especially after Xhaka flicked the ball into his own net on the stroke of half-time.
His side’s toothlessness in the final third will be of some concern to Arteta, who will welcome back Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to training next week but saw Reiss Nelson go down with another injury.
Speaking about Nelson post-match, the boss said: “We don’t know the extent of the injury. The fact that he had to leave the pitch straight away is not good news, especially with someone like Reiss who is really powerful and fast. Let’s see what will happen.”
Arteta and his men were Allegri’d on Saturday night. It happens. But some fans will fear a repeat when West Ham visit on Boxing Day.